The Colorado Avalanche are in Vegas where they’ll face the Golden Knights with some new lines and defensive pairings.
The Colorado Avalanche are finishing the last game of their six-game roadie, OR they’re on a single-game road trip three days after completing a five-game roadie. However you want to look at it, Colorado is in Vegas this afternoon.
I say this afternoon because it’s Nevada Day, the holiday commemorating the stat’s inclusion into the union, which actually happened on October 31. I guess they didn’t want to get the two holidays mixed up. Anyway, today marks the second time the Avs have played in Vegas on that day, during which time all government offices and many private businesses are closed.
Which is why the game is so early — 4 p.m. MT. I also hope the Avs don’t make this a tradition because they did poorly in their previous Nevada Day excursion, losing 7-0 to the Knights. All time, the two teams are even with each other, each winning three and losing three. However, they’ve only ever beat each other on their own home ice.
Let’s hope that changes this afternoon.
Anyway, the big news of the day is that, with star winger Mikko Rantanen week to week with a lower body injury, the Avalanche have had to juggle their lines. They’ve also changed up their defensive pairings.
If they run their lines and pairings according to practice yesterday, they’ll look like this:
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – J.T. Compher
Andre Burakovsky – Nazem Kadri – Joonas Donskoi
Colin Wilson – Tyson Jost – Valeri Nichushkin
Matt Nieto – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Matt Calvert
Samuel Girard – Erik Johnson
Ian Cole – Cale Makar
Ryan Graves – Nikita Zadorov
So, let’s look at the changed lines.
This is the line that obviously had to change because of Rantanen’s absence. JT Compher has been moved to that line. In his post practice presser, Jared Bednar said he wanted Compher to bring his “speed and tenacity” to the line.
I’m slightly surprised at this move. However, Compher can make some pretty plays and score in tough situations. He’s certainly not going to be a hindrance to this line.
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With JT Compher exiting the third line, Tyson Jost and Colin Wilson were left without a winger. Apparently Valeri Nichushkin, who’s been a healthy scratch the last four games, is going to move there.
Thanks, I hate it. Nichushkin has just one point in five games and hasn’t played a single shift with Jost and Wilson as his linemates. Bednar stated he didn’t want to disrupt too many lines, but I would have definitely promoted Matt Nieto back up to the third before Nuchshkin. Or Matt Calvert. Or Vladislav Kamenev.
Well, I won’t be surprised to see this line broken up in a hurry.
Thank the hockey gods, our blueline is still healthy. (Fingers crossed) However, the Colorado Avalanche have changed up two of the pairings. The second pairing now consists of Ian Cole and Cale Makar. The thought was to put Makar with more of a veteran player — a vocal veteran.
I’m pretty meh on this change. Makar is working on finding his way both offensively and defensively. I’d love to see him getting the help from Erik Johnson, but even our Condor can’t be everywhere.
Nikita Zadorov will now be on the third pairing with Ryan Graves. There is just something about Zadorov that Bednar doesn’t like. And it’s not just the defensive mistakes — Cole makes those in spades — or the penalties — ditto Cole.
Well, two big, physical guys who can maybe skate better than you give them credit for coming at you like a juggernaut — I’m not unhappy with that situation.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: Oct. 19, 5:00 pm MT
TV: ALT2*, ESPN+ (Knights’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5/AM 950)
*The Big 3 carriers have colluded to block Altitude TV from being broadcast in the Denver Metro area. However, you can watch all road games at Brooklyn’s near the Pepsi Center. At least some other local sports bars, such as Blake Street Tavern, are also showing the games.